Located in Karjat, Maharashtra, Tooth Mountain Farms offers a stay amidst the world of flora and fauna with a blend of village life indulged in traditional farming.
Waking up inside a farm that overlooks the beauty of Western Ghats might appear a far off-dream amid the hustle-bustle of life, but the Tooth Mountain Farms, situated in Karjat, Maharashtra, is determined to convert this dream into a reality with its astounding farm stay.
A trail in the Western Ghats is a lively experience that many living around it do not get to feel owing to busy life schedules. For instance, people of one of the larger states in the Ghats, Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, hardly have enough time and space to wander around and admire the natural landscapes that surround them. The farm stay, in such a situation, is hardly 62 km from the city, offering an escape to the organic world.
Spread over an area of 20 acres, this property belongs to the late filmmaker and writer Dr. Ramanand Sagar, who has various Hindi movies on his name, including Ankhen, Charas, Lalkar, along with one of the popular Hindi TV series, Ramayan. Supposedly, the land was bought in the 70s, but it was only in 2006 when the acquisition of the land started, after Neelam Sagar, his daughter in law and wife of his fourth son Prem Sagar, thought to convert the land into a nursery out of her love for plants.
In the next few years, the family built a villa with two rooms, namely Parijat and Palash, to come and stay on the weekends, following which several constructions took place. An artificial lake was pitched where the rainwater could be accumulated, along with a swimming pool. Initially, an outhouse was also built that comprised two rooms, named Ashmantak and Amaltas.
The reason behind these interesting names was very simple. They were kept after flowering trees that grew on the land, of which Basant Rani, the fifth room constructed later, was also a part. The family rented out the place as a “Bed and Breakfast” for guests during the weekends where they could even cook on their own or get their cooks from cities.
Merging farm living with modern facilities
Since the first booking in 2015, the farm stay aims to preserve ancient systems of farming and cultivation while also providing people with a chance to get a sneak peek into the farm living. Along with five air-conditioned rooms, the main villa on the land includes an “activities hall” with several games and the only television facility.
As one glances at the rooms, they appear distinctive from each other. The colourful essence at Palash seems to differ from Parijat, having elegance and a modest outlook with a subtle colour selection. Ashmantak and Amaltas are capable of giving the Goan style of living with wooden furniture, grilled windows and large spaces for the verandah, whereas Basant Rani combines the modern style of living through large glass windows with a separate space for classical musical instruments like Sitar to aid the aesthetics.
Taking a stroll in the surrounding takes one to the lake where kayaking is an option, nearby villages, a garden full of plants, a meditation center, a furniture and decor store, and the ‘Art Village’ that invites various artists, musicians, dancers, and theatre personalities to share their experiences.
Farm to table
With a vision to expand the farms, the family’s move to build a full-fledged kitchen and a restaurant is now a place to spend some quality time with fresh organic produce. Designed by Shabnam Gupta, elder daughter of Prem and Neelam Sagar, in 2018, the restaurant offers rustic charm with its interiors and lies in the middle of the organic farm that was started in 2019. Most of the exteriors form dense and lush greenery.
The multi-layered organic farming setup is used for growing most of the farm’s vegetables. This is adjoined by a herb garden where the herbs are grown. Taking a tour makes one see the wheat being crushed with a local village’s grinding machine and the making of dairy products like paneer, mawa, yoghurt, ghee, and white butter. “The restaurant is a humble beginning. I think our Indian food and tandoor, along with our wood-fired pizzas are to die for and they are my all-time favourite,” says Shiv Sagar Chopra, son of Prem and Neelam Sagar.
Additionally, visiting the organic store lets one choose from the varieties of farm-made products, often prepared by the tribal women at a section behind the restaurant. Made in batches without any chemicals or preservatives, the team also takes care of the hygiene standards. From sun-dried pickles, jams, chutneys to sauces of various seasonal fruits, the products are placed on the colourful wooden racks of the open-air store.
With around 35 to 40 staff working as gardeners, housekeeping staff, and animal caretakers, there is no surprise how the place serves nearly 200 – 300 guests every month. Mr. Chopra says that they have many repeat guests as once he had met a guest who had stayed at the farm 16 times!
On what attracts people the most about the farm stay, the 44-year-old says, “Peace of mind, off the grid, slow life and healing amidst nature,” while the serene environment around the farm stands as the witness of the statement.